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by Keyword: Dendrimer

Wagner, AM, Kostina, NY, Xiao, Q, Klein, ML, Percec, V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2024). Glycan-Driven Formation of Raft-Like Domains with Hierarchical Periodic Nanoarrays on Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Biomacromolecules 25, 366-378

The accurate spatial segregation into distinct phases within cell membranes coordinates vital biochemical processes and functionalities in living organisms. One of nature's strategies to localize reactivity is the formation of dynamic raft domains. Most raft models rely on liquid-ordered L-0 phases in a liquid-disordered L-d phase lacking correlation and remaining static, often necessitating external agents for phase separation. Here, we introduce a synthetic system of bicomponent glycodendrimersomes coassembled from Janus dendrimers and Janus glycodendrimers (JGDs), where lactose-lactose interactions exclusively drive lateral organization. This mechanism results in modulated phases across two length scales, yielding raft-like microdomains featuring nanoarrays at the nanoscale. By varying the density of lactose and molecular architecture of JGDs, the nanoarray type and size, shape, and spacing of the domains were controlled. Our findings offer insight into the potential primordial origins of rudimentary raft domains and highlight the crucial role of glycans within the glycocalyx.

JTD Keywords: Bilayer, Biological-membranes, Defined janus glycodendrimers, Giant vesicles, Lipid rafts, Modulated phases, Organization, Phase-separation, Phospholipids, Unilamellar vesicles


Englert, J, Witzdam, L, Söder, D, Garay-Sarmiento, M, Joseph, A, Wagner, AM, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2023). Synthetic Evolution of a Supramolecular Harpooning Mechanism to Immobilize Vesicles at Antifouling Interfaces Macromolecular Chemistry And Physics 224, 2300306

The immobilization of vesicles has been conceptualized as a method to functionalize biointerfaces. However, the preservation of their integrity post immobilization remains a considerable challenge. Interfacial interactions can cause vesicle rupture upon close surface contact and non-specific protein adsorption impairing surface functions. To date, immobilization of vesicles has relied solely on either entrapment or prior modification of vesicles, both of which require laborious preparation and limit their applications. This work develops a bioinspired strategy to pin vesicles without prior modification while preserving their intact shape. This work introduces antifouling diblock copolymers and ultrathin surface-attached hydrogels containing a brush-like interface consisting of a bottle brush copolymer of N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA) and N-(3-methacrylamidopropyl)-N,N-dimethyldodecan-1-aminiumiodide (C12+). The presence of positive charges generates an attractive force that pulls vesicles toward the surface. At the surface, the amphiphilic properties of the combs facilitate their insertion into the membrane, mimicking the harpooning mechanism observed in antimicrobial peptides. Importantly, the antifouling poly(HPMA) backdrop serves to safeguard the vesicles by preventing deformation and breakage. Using a combination of thermodynamic analysis, surface plasmon resonance, and confocal laser scanning microscopy, this work demonstrates the efficiency of this biomimetic system to capture vesicles while maintaining an antifouling interface necessary for bioapplications. This work presents a novel supramolecular approach that combines three key elements: long-range attraction, vesicle pinning, and short-range repulsion to attract and harpoon vesicles, while protecting them at the surface. This work envisions these coatings as universal and biocompatible platforms that can be used not only to study vesicle interactions, but also as tools for biomedical applications.image

JTD Keywords: Antifouling coatings, Coatings, Delivery, Extracellular vesicles, Fabrication, Hydrogel, Janus dendrimers, Lipid vesicles, Liposomes, Membrane insertion, Polymer brushes, Proteins, Surface-energy components, Ultrathin surface-attached hydrogels, Vesicle pinning


Joseph A, Wagner AM, Garay-Sarmiento M, Aleksanyan M, Haraszti T, Söder D, Georgiev VN, Dimova R, Percec V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger C, (2022). Zwitterionic Dendrimersomes: A Closer Xenobiotic Mimic of Cell Membranes Advanced Materials 34, e2206288

Building functional mimics of cell membranes is an important task toward the development of synthetic cells. So far, lipid and amphiphilic block copolymers are the most widely used amphiphiles with the bilayers by the former lacking stability while membranes by the latter are typically characterized by very slow dynamics. Herein, we introduce a new type of Janus dendrimer containing a zwitterionic phosphocholine hydrophilic headgroup (JDPC ) and a 3,5-substituted dihydrobenzoate-based hydrophobic dendron. JDPC self-assembles in water into zwitterionic dendrimersomes (z-DSs) that faithfully recapitulate the cell membrane in thickness, flexibility, and fluidity, while being resilient to harsh conditions and displaying faster pore closing dynamics in the event of membrane rupture. This enables the fabrication of hybrid DSs with components of natural membranes, including pore-forming peptides, structure-directing lipids, and glycans to create raft-like domains or onion vesicles. Moreover, z-DSs can be used to create active synthetic cells with life-like features that mimic vesicle fusion and motility as well as environmental sensing. Despite their fully synthetic nature, z-DSs are minimal cell mimics that can integrate and interact with living matter with the programmability to imitate life-like features and beyond. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: biological-membranes, bottom-up synthetic biology, chain, hybrid vesicles, hydroethidine, organization, polymersome, proteins, stability, synthetic cells, thickness, vesicle fusion, vesicle motility, vesicles, zwitterionic dendrimersomes, Biosensor, Biosensors, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Hybrid vesicles, Lipid-bilayers, Synthetic cells, Vesicle fusion, Vesicle motility, Zwitterionic dendrimersomes


Morla-Folch, J, Vargas-Nadal, G, Fuentes, E, Illa-Tuset, S, Koeber, M, Sissa, C, Pujals, S, Painelli, A, Veciana, J, Faraudo, J, Belfield, KD, Albertazzi, L, Ventosa, N, (2022). Ultrabright Foster Resonance Energy Transfer Nanovesicles: The Role of Dye Diffusion Chemistry Of Materials 34, 8517-8527

The development of contrast agents based on fluorescent nanoparticles with high brightness and stability is a key factor to improve the resolution and signal-to-noise ratio of current fluorescence imaging techniques. However, the design of bright fluorescent nanoparticles remains challenging due to fluorescence self-quenching at high concentrations. Developing bright nanoparticles showing FRET emission adds several advantages to the system, including an amplified Stokes shift, the possibility of ratiometric measurements, and of verifying the nanoparticle stability. Herein, we have developed Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based nanovesicles at different dye loadings and investigated them through complementary experimental techniques, including conventional fluorescence spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy supported by molecular dynamics calculations. We show that the optical properties can be modulated by dye loading at the nanoscopic level due to the dye's molecular diffusion in fluid-like membranes. This work shows the first proof of a FRET pair dye's dynamism in liquid-like membranes, resulting in optimized nanoprobes that are 120-fold brighter than QDot 605 and exhibit >80% FRET efficiency with vesicle-to-vesicle variations that are mostly below 10%.

JTD Keywords: Bright, Dendrimers, Fluorescent, In-vivo, Nanoparticles, Nir, Particles


Wagner, AM, Eto, H, Joseph, A, Kohyama, S, Haraszti, T, Zamora, RA, Vorobii, M, Giannotti, MI, Schwille, P, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2022). Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Harbor Cell Division Machinery of Bacteria Advanced Materials 34, 2202364

The integration of active cell machinery with synthetic building blocks is the bridge toward developing synthetic cells with biological functions and beyond. Self-replication is one of the most important tasks of living systems, and various complex machineries exist to execute it. In Escherichia coli, a contractile division ring is positioned to mid-cell by concentration oscillations of self-organizing proteins (MinCDE), where it severs membrane and cell wall. So far, the reconstitution of any cell division machinery has exclusively been tied to liposomes. Here, the reconstitution of a rudimentary bacterial divisome in fully synthetic bicomponent dendrimersomes is shown. By tuning the membrane composition, the interaction of biological machinery with synthetic membranes can be tailored to reproduce its dynamic behavior. This constitutes an important breakthrough in the assembly of synthetic cells with biological elements, as tuning of membrane-divisome interactions is the key to engineering emergent biological behavior from the bottom-up.

JTD Keywords: bacterial cell division, bottom-up synthetic biology, dendrimersomes, dynamic min patterns, ftsz assembly, Bacterial cell division, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Dendrimersomes, Dynamic min patterns, Dynamics, Ftsz assembly, Ftsz filaments, Mind, Organization, Pole oscillation, Polymersome membranes, Proteins, Rapid pole, Synthetic cells, Vesicles


Casanellas, I, Lagunas, A, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, Rodriguez-Pereira, C, Magalhaes, J, Andrades, JA, Becerra, J, Samitier, J, (2022). Nanoscale ligand density modulates gap junction intercellular communication of cell condensates during chondrogenesis Nanomedicine 17, 775-791

Aim: To unveil the influence of cell-matrix adhesions in the establishment of gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) during cell condensation in chondrogenesis. Materials & methods: Previously developed nanopatterns of the cell adhesive ligand arginine-glycine-aspartic acid were used as cell culture substrates to control cell adhesion at the nanoscale. In vitro chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells was conducted on the nanopatterns. Cohesion and GJIC were evaluated in cell condensates. Results: Mechanical stability and GJIC are enhanced by a nanopattern configuration in which 90% of the surface area presents adhesion sites separated less than 70 nm, thus providing an onset for cell signaling. Conclusion: Cell-matrix adhesions regulate GJIC of mesenchymal cell condensates during in vitro chondrogenesis from a threshold configuration at the nanoscale.

JTD Keywords: arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, arginine–glycine–aspartic acid, cell adhesion, condensation, dendrimer-based nanopatterning, gap junction intercellular communication, Actin, Adhesion, Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Cell adhesion, Collagen, Condensation, Connexin-43, Dendrimer-based nanopatterning, Dynamics, Extracellular-matrix, Fibronectin, Gap junction intercellular communication, Mesenchymal stem cells, Permeability, Phenotype, Vinculin


Morgado, A, Najera, F, Lagunas, A, Samitier, J, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, (2021). Slightly congested amino terminal dendrimers. The synthesis of amide-based stable structures on a large scale Polymer Chemistry 12, 5168-5177

Nowadays, amino terminal dendrimers are appealing materials for biological applications due to their multivalence and the versatile conjugation of the amino groups. However, the high reactivity of these terminal groups can be decreased by steric hindrance, limiting their possible bioapplications. Herein, we report the divergent synthesis of slightly sterically hindered amino terminal polyamide dendrimers. A simple and unique AB(2) scaffold has been chosen to build the dendritic structures, where only amide bonds have been used as the connecting unit. The 1-7 relative positions of the amino groups in the AB(2) monomers avoid the steric congestion of the macromolecules, allowing the construction of robust dendrimers up to the fifth generation. The construction of the dendrimers is based on two well-established reactions, using simple and cheap reactants, with yields above 90% on a gram scale and easy purification procedures. This synthetic methodology constitutes an easy and efficient way for the preparation of stable and aqueous soluble dendrimers on a gram scale, representing a substantial improvement over the synthesis of this kind of aliphatic polyamide amino terminal dendrimer. The prepared structures were completely characterized and evaluated by size exclusion chromatography, diffusion ordered spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to determine their size. Molecular dynamics simulations were also carried out and the values obtained were consistent with the experimentally determined values.

JTD Keywords: Density, Discovery, Pamam dendrimers, Polymers


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, J. A., Becerra, J., Samitier, Josep, (2020). The Janus role of adhesion in chondrogenesis International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (15), 5269

Tackling the first stages of the chondrogenic commitment is essential to drive chondrogenic differentiation to healthy hyaline cartilage and minimize hypertrophy. During chondrogenesis, the extracellular matrix continuously evolves, adapting to the tissue adhesive requirements at each stage. Here, we take advantage of previously developed nanopatterns, in which local surface adhesiveness can be precisely tuned, to investigate its effects on prechondrogenic condensation. Fluorescence live cell imaging, immunostaining, confocal microscopy and PCR analysis are used to follow the condensation process on the nanopatterns. Cell tracking parameters, condensate morphology, cell–cell interactions, mechanotransduction and chondrogenic commitment are evaluated in response to local surface adhesiveness. Results show that only condensates on the nanopatterns of high local surface adhesiveness are stable in culture and able to enter the chondrogenic pathway, thus highlighting the importance of controlling cell–substrate adhesion in the tissue engineering strategies for cartilage repair.

JTD Keywords: Dendrimer, Nanopatterning, RGD, Mesenchymal cell condensation, Cell–cell interactions, YAP, Chondrogenesis


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Magalhaes, Joana, Gorostiza, Pau, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns to locally control surface adhesiveness: A method to direct chondrogenic differentiation Journal of Visualized Experiments Bioengineering, (131), e56347

Cellular adhesion and differentiation is conditioned by the nanoscale disposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with local concentrations having a major effect. Here we present a method to obtain large-scale uneven nanopatterns of arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-functionalized dendrimers that permit the nanoscale control of local RGD surface density. Nanopatterns are formed by surface adsorption of dendrimers from solutions at different initial concentrations and are characterized by water contact angle (CA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning probe microscopy techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The local surface density of RGD is measured using AFM images by means of probability contour maps of minimum interparticle distances and then correlated with cell adhesion response and differentiation. The nanopatterning method presented here is a simple procedure that can be scaled up in a straightforward manner to large surface areas. It is thus fully compatible with cell culture protocols and can be applied to other ligands that exert concentration-dependent effects on cells.

JTD Keywords: Bioengineering, Dendrimer, Nanopattern, Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic Acid (RGD), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Cell Adhesion, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Mscs), Chondrogenesis


Movellan, J., Urbán, P., Moles, E., de la Fuente, J. M., Sierra, T., Serrano, J. L., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Amphiphilic dendritic derivatives as nanocarriers for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Biomaterials 35, (27), 7940-7950

It can be foreseen that in a future scenario of malaria eradication, a varied armamentarium will be required, including strategies for the targeted administration of antimalarial compounds. The development of nanovectors capable of encapsulating drugs and of delivering them to Plasmodium-infected cells with high specificity and efficacy and at an affordable cost is of particular interest. With this objective, dendritic derivatives based on 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)propionic acid (bis-MPA) and Pluronic® polymers have been herein explored. Four different dendritic derivatives have been tested for their capacity to encapsulate the antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine (PQ), their specific targeting to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs), and their antimalarial activity in vitro against the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and in vivo against the rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii. The results obtained have allowed the identification of two dendritic derivatives exhibiting specific targeting to pRBCs vs. non-infected RBCs, which reduce the in vitro IC50 of CQ and PQ by ca. 3- and 4-fold down to 4.0 nm and 1.1 μm, respectively. This work on the application of dendritic derivatives to antimalarial targeted drug delivery opens the way for the use of this new type of chemicals in future malaria eradication programs.

JTD Keywords: Antimalarial targeted drug delivery, Dendrimers, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polymeric nanoparticles


Lagunas, A., Garcia, A., Artés, J. M., Vida, Y., Collado, D., Pérez-Inestrosa, E., Gorostiza, P., Claros, S., Andrades, J. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Large-scale dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns for the study of local arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion Nano Research , 7, (3), 399-409

Cell adhesion processes are governed by the nanoscale arrangement of the extracellular matrix (ECM), being more affected by local rather than global concentrations of cell adhesive ligands. In many cell-based studies, grafting of dendrimers on surfaces has shown the benefits of the local increase in concentration provided by the dendritic configuration, although the lack of any reported surface characterization has limited any direct correlation between dendrimer disposition and cell response. In order to establish a proper correlation, some control over dendrimer surface deposition is desirable. Here, dendrimer nanopatterning has been employed to address arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion. Nanopatterned surfaces were fully characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), showing that tunable distributions of cell adhesive ligands on the surface are obtained as a function of the initial dendrimer bulk concentration. Cell experiments showed a clear correlation with dendrimer surface layout: Substrates presenting regions of high local ligand density resulted in a higher percentage of adhered cells and a higher degree of maturation of focal adhesions (FAs). Therefore, dendrimer nanopatterning is presented as a suitable and controlled approach to address the effect of local ligand density on cell response. Moreover, due to the easy modification of dendrimer peripheral groups, dendrimer nanopatterning can be further extended to other ECM ligands having density effects on cells.

JTD Keywords: Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Atomic force microscopy, Cell adhesion, Dendrimer, Focal adhesions, Scanning tunneling microscopy


Urbán, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Nanomedicine against malaria Current Medicinal Chemistry , 21, (5), 605-629

Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected, the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical, social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite's strain, its precise infective load, and the relative content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies. The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

JTD Keywords: Dendrimers, Liposomes, Malaria diagnosis, Nanobiosensors, Nanoparticles, Plasmodium, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Urban, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Diez, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides Current Drug Targets , 13, (9), 1158-1172

Antimicrobial peptide drugs are increasingly attractive therapeutic agents as their roles in physiopathological processes are being unraveled and because the development of recombinant DNA technology has made them economically affordable in large amounts and high purity. However, due to lack of specificity regarding the target cells, difficulty in attaining them, or reduced half-lives, most current administration methods require high doses. On the other hand, reduced specificity of toxic drugs demands low concentrations to minimize undesirable side-effects, thus incurring the risk of having sublethal amounts which favour the appearance of resistant microbial strains. In this scenario, targeted delivery can fulfill the objective of achieving the intake of total quantities sufficiently low to be innocuous for the patient but that locally are high enough to be lethal for the infectious agent. One of the major advances in recent years has been the size reduction of drug carriers that have dimensions in the nanometer scale and thus are much smaller than -and capable of being internalized by- many types of cells. Among the different types of potential antimicrobial peptide-encapsulating structures reviewed here are liposomes, dendritic polymers, solid core nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and DNA cages. These nanoparticulate systems can be functionalized with a plethora of biomolecules providing specificity of binding to particular cell types or locations; as examples of these targeting elements we will present antibodies, DNA aptamers, cell-penetrating peptides, and carbohydrates. Multifunctional Trojan horse-like nanovessels can be engineered by choosing the adequate peptide content, encapsulating structure, and targeting moiety for each particular application.

JTD Keywords: Antibodies, Aptamers, Dendrimers, Liposomes, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Nanovectors, Targeting